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Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Those of us with cats can tell many a tale about the odd and crazy antics of our feline friends. In my family, we currently have three, all super active, wonderful fur babies and amazingly different. However, each has his or her idiosyncrasies, especially when it comes to litter box behaviors.

One, in particular, is Cinder, who came to us with an occasional urge to urinate outside a litter box, on my favorite chair, in particular. This is a cat behavior that is really annoying. Clearly, this was why she was dumped and left to forage on her own. Sadly, this happens all too often, when people don’t know how to “fix" cat box issues. (She is now a proud . . . and polite . . . member of our family.)

Some cats or kittens can come with issues, as did Cinder, while others develop what we consider problems as time passes. Most problems, I’ve found, are human-created. Yes, that’s right. We, humans, are notorious for undermining our pets behavior.

Here are the most common reasons I've found that upset your cat's litterbox etiquette:

  1. Not enough litter boxes

  2. Boxes not in desirable places

  3. Not liking the litter brand

  4. Switching brands of litter

  5. Boxes are too small

  6. Hooded boxes

  7. Dirty boxes

  8. Very dirty boxes!

  9. Too much stress in the household

1. Here’s the rule-of-thumb for the number of litter boxes in the house = 2 boxes per cat. Example: 3 cats need 6 boxes. (Not kidding.)

2. Don’t have the path to the box blocked in any way. That includes a dog being pushy or a bullying cat not letting the "problem" cat comfortable access to a box.

3. Some litter brands literally stink. Imagine what your cat thinks of it with its phenomenal sense of smell! I’ve found the organic brands, like WORLD’S BEST CAT LITTER (made from corn), are better received than clay ones.

4. If you’re going to change brands, do it slowly as you would your pet's food. Take a couple of weeks to make the transition.

5. Bigger cats need bigger boxes.

6. Hoods can sometimes be scary. If that seems to be the case, don’t use them, but get deeper/higher-sided boxes.

7. & 8. And clean the box DAILY. It’s true that some cats can go longer, but there are many who don’t like a dirty potty, just like people. Clean that box. (I have found it's easier with WBCL. It's made my litter box cleaning so much more pleasant.)

9. Stress in a cat can create bizarre behaviors, especially in males, where they constantly try to “go” and act like they’re blocked, as well as pottying inappropriately in places you would never expect them to.

Cats can be wonderful companions, giving us so much unconditional love. Return it with patience and compassion and you’ll have a relationship like no other.

NOTE: If you have a cat that suddenly exhibits odd or bizarre litter box manners, I have found that it can be linked to a health issue. That’s when we take our friend to the vet for a good exam and bloodwork.


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